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American Pariah

The Obama years were terrible. Obama was a weak, vacillating president who grew increasingly discredited over his eight years in power. The USA’s image and the perception of its might declined dramatically. It was, like Britain in 1926, a leading world power but it lost its air of invincibility. Rather than being able to dictate terms with a minimal amount of negotiation as it could have a mere 20-30 years earlier, it could merely lead negotiations and use its leverage to persuade smaller countries to come around to its view.

This blow to prestige was harder for the US to bear than Britain. The British had a collective memory of ups and downs, of calamities, failures, defeats — and, ultimately, rebirth. It really should have come as no surprise that they would have plumbed for a “daddy’s home” figure following the increasingly torturous Obama era. “Daddy” has proven to be a plonker who comes home with the stench of an evening’s chundering on his breath and a prostitute on each arm.

Years of growing unease about the US, internationally speaking, finally started to sharpen and grow more focused. Tourist numbers have started tapering off significantly. I don’t necessarily think this is only the fault of God-Emperor-President Don the One. Rather, it’s the culmination of years of problems and concerns. Countless holidaymakers have complained bitterly about US passport control and customs. I’ve personally witnessed Scandinavian holidaymakers harassed by them. I can’t say that my experiences have always been heart-warming, either. Let’s not even start about TSA!

The US has grown increasingly expensive and not only because of the relative decline in the strength of European and Asian currencies. I’ve been able to find reasonable accommodation in London, Stockholm and Oslo for £50-£70 a night. Anything that isn’t a rat-infested dive that comes with the benefit of at least 7 highly contagious diseases in San Francisco or Los Angeles costs at least £110-£150. There are, of course, cheaper areas but that would no longer be comparing apples with apples. The high cost, increased hassle and surge in unpleasant experiences hasn’t made the US quite the destination it once was.

The death of Justine Damond might well become a watershed moment for the US. We’ve been regaled with stories of Seppo police shooting first and asking questions later for years. More often than not, the incidents the largely left-wing US media chose to highlight ended up being more complex than they’d let on. A mentally ill drug addict having withdrawals outside his Alabama caravan is unlikely to gain overwhelming public sympathy if he’s shot to death by police. That he might well be otherwise harmless and unarmed is irrelevant if he is a person of pallor. The great and good in SF and NYC couldn’t be arsed to care because that wouldn’t fit their narrow narrative. Things in this vein happen very often — almost every day, in fact.

Now, an unarmed woman in a posh neighbourhood in one of the USA’s better cities was shot dead with no provocation or cause. All she did was telephone the police to report a suspected sexual assault. The patience of much of the civilised world, a patience that’s come under increasing strain over the years, has seemingly snapped. The way a number of Seppos have responded* — frankly racist innuendo and an inability to acknowledge or accept that the US has serious issues with crime — hasn’t helped in the least.

  • I edited this portion. My original phrasing was far too broad. Many Americans have responded with shock and horror. A few have written me to express their dismay at the rabid rhetoric of some of their countrymen.

 

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Categories: General
  1. christinaosborne
    July 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Christopher, your anti American sentiments are really beyond here.
    For those of you who do not know what seppos mean,= septic tank=Yank talking a load of shit.
    I do not agree, most Americans I know are a damned sight more polite than the usual denizens of London these days. There is no need for such insults.

    One of the biggest drawbacks to tourism might well be the airport routine and visa requirements. Personally I would rather have stringent oversight than the free for all in the UK and Europe. Equally the exchange rate does not help.

    I would equally suggest that Obama was more well liked in Europe than the present creature who is a total embarrassment. That he was not a good president, yes, but at least he was a personable human being!

    I am not at all sure that gun violence actually puts anyone off coming. Most tourists visit the sights and natural wonders of the Americas, not the slums. Or visiting relatives or friends.

    The Minneapolis shooting seems to be a straightforward act of homicide by a Somali/American policeman who has unresolved complaints against him already. A first class example of why such immigrants should be kept out in the first place.

  2. July 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    I too am surprised by your lack of objectivity, CT. Obama commanded respect outside Murica for his dovish attitudes and eloquence. He wasn’t pro-Brit but liked for all that. I don’t rank bullying as an essential quality in the First Man.

  3. July 18, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    CO: Furry ’nuff, as the great Ferret would say. ‘Murca, ‘Murca über alles. Is that better? You are, of course, also wrong. My criticism of US law enforcement was met with emails and messages insisting that I am clearly wrong and that it was all the work of a terrorist. That there is no evidence that he was a terrorist at this point is entirely irrelevant. I was also sent several links to shonky websites insinuating that this was clearly an act of terror because he was a Somali-born Muslim. Whether you like it or not, social media is how many interact these days and my profile has been inundated with hyper-nationalist rants and vicious attacks for daring to say that the glorious USA, the country where nothing bad ever happens, needs to sort its problems out PDQ. I have received emails from friends in Australia expressing their concerns at how they’ve been treated by Americans for making their disquiet known.
    You might well accuse me of anti-Americanism, but if that is the case, then I can accuse you of cult-like adulation. On balance, I dislike more about the USA than I like — but that doesn’t mean I see it as an entirely wretched country or that I view all Americans as horrid people.

    The electronic travel authorisation is not necessarily a put-off. Australia and Canada both have similar requirements and they’re not exactly suffering in terms of tourist numbers. China and Russia also receive tens of millions of holidaymakers each year and their visa requirements are truly daunting. Schengen countries will implement a similar scheme soon. The UK and Ireland will probably join them in short order. The problem is that far too many people return home with negative views of the country, or at least the sense that it isn’t as nice as it used to be — and far more expensive. Quite a few people I know have no desire to take an American holiday even though they, in the past, found it an enjoyable country for that purpose. They’ve had enough of these horror stories.

    You misunderstood several of my points, despite their being rather obvious. I’m not sure how describing the incumbent “Gronk in Chief” as a “plonker who comes home with the stench of an evening’s chundering on his breath and a prostitute on each arm” could be construed favourably. Obama was a terrible president who did much to weaken the USA’s global standing. The Gronk in Chief is not doing anything to make it better. My suggestion was that it isn’t entirely his fault that fewer people are coming, rather that his antics are focusing people’s minds on the uptick in negative experiences in recent years. Nor did I imply that Londoners were friendly. I said that I found reasonable accommodation at far lower prices than similar locales in the US.

  4. July 18, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Janus: The problem with Obama was that, while generally well-liked, he wasn’t taken especially seriously. His serial mishandling of crises did little to help the USA’s cause. He bungled the “Arab Spring”, Libya and Syria. He drew numerous “red lines” with no intention of ever holding firm. He would make implicit threats, but would never follow through. I’d rather the US have a more dovish, less interventionist foreign policy. The problem with Obama is that he meddled in foreign affairs with no intention of actually accepting the consequences.

  5. cogitationator
    July 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Ohdearohdearohdear. So much vituperation to issue, so little time.

    Let’s start with, “seppos.” I object. I am hugely unamused. It’s not even creatively funny, as was the Monty Python sketch in which Belgians were referred to as “the Phlegms,” but merely nasty. What epithet do you, gentle Readers, think might be bestowed upon the author of the insult to my countrypersons?

    Fortunately, not everyone in the world hates America and Americans as CT seems to. Indeed, a case could be made for the lack of blind adulation on the part of all and sundry being to a good extent the result of something resembling jealousy. Everyone (and I personify nations in this) who is to any degree insecure craves – needs! – someone to look down upon. (Hmm… that would explain a lot…) Minor faults must be exaggerated. If faults are not to be found, they must be invented. The deprecatory sneer must be practiced early and often, even while privately and quietly trying to get money out of or otherwise take advantage of “them.”

    It’s true enough that America and Americans are far from perfect. Who is? But who among you can fairly cast the first stone? Permit me. I’m a citizen of the USA by birth but, not fearing arrest for “hate speech” (whatever that may be elsewhere in the world), I revel in the freedom to speak my mind even when being critical, as I will do when something stirs my ire.

    Are tourist numbers down in the USA? Kindly show me the numbers, document the source and do the same for other countries. (I take the number of British tourists in Spain to be an aberration that may be safely excluded.) Could the general state of the world’s economies and a reduction in the amount of disposable income have anything to do with it? If £50 – £70 seems a bargain for hotel accommodation, could that have anything to do with the weakness of the tourist’s currency? I honestly don’t know, as my own existence doesn’t depend upon tourism and I’m not too keen on rubbing shoulders with strangers anyway.

    How about this: the last time (admittedly now a good many years ago) I was in Niagara Falls, NY, it was not a particularly good place to visit. The Canadian city of the same name was far better and clearly deserved the tourist revenue far more than we did.

    What about entering the USA? True, as a returning citizen it’s always involved a queue of no more than tolerable length, a quick scan of my passport, a quick look at the computer screen and then, invariably, a “Welcome home, Sir!” I have, however, taken the opportunity to look at those other windows, the ones for “creepy furriners,” and can honestly say that I have never seen any indication of legitimate tourists or business travelers being unduly harassed. Yes, a couple of times I did witness the heat being turned up when something about a visitor appeared fishy. Rightly so, else why do we pay our border guards? This isn’t, like the EU, a situation of médecins and all others sans frontières. In my own not-always-so-humble opinion, Britain’s membership in the EU has resulted in wasting one of the UK’s greatest resources, a natural barrier between the British and all those other people. Another thing I’ve witnessed is that the perceived *attitude* of a visitor can have much to do with the way he/she is treated.

    Getting out of the USA is another matter entirely. We treat everyone, our own citizens as well as others, equally badly. Why should I, an elderly retired executive type with mostly Scandihoovian genes, be made to remove my shoes? I’d have thought the resulting release of odor alone might be construed as something terrorist-related. It’s like some colossal joke, only it isn’t. What it is has more to do with what I’ve heard called “security theatre” and “eyewash for the masses” than with actually protecting anyone or anything. What’s decidedly unfunny about it as that we, the taxpayers, are footing the bill for this charade. It’s not just us, either. The infection is spreading. For those with time for a little light reading, here’s a piece from our neighbors to the North:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/national/canadian+airport+security+exactly+useless+arbitrary+think/13764618/story.html

    Another thing that troubles me about the USA is that all too often the police are not adequately held to account for their own crimes. Yes, I said “crimes.” There have been too many cases of individuals being mistreated or even killed by police without what I’d consider real justification. Unfortunately, prosecutors and courts are strangely reluctant to pursue such charges against serving police officers. There may well be valid reasons for things that happen but the “club” culture of the police too often keeps all relevant facts hidden from the public. The recent case of that Australian woman should prove interesting, not least because the officers’ body cameras were not turned on as their department’s procedure would dictate. And why was that Somali-born officer (N.B.: not a hint of anything terrorist-related in my own mind or in such of the American media as I’ve seen) allowed back out on the streets and not relegated to a desk job pending proper investigation and resolution of previous issues outstanding against him? I don’t see the problem as simply a matter of inadequate training but rather one of inadequate screening of prospective police officers. While hardly a proponent of shrinkology, I at least allow myself to hope that some means can be found to “candle” candidates’ heads before issuing weapons to them. Is not the motto of the Los Angeles (of all places!) Police Department, “To protect and serve?” It’s time to live up to that sentiment!

    Time is moving on, I have genuinely important things to do and I’ve probably written more than enough for one day.
    Good will to all!

  6. July 18, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Cog: I admit that I tend to write in the polemic when discussing the USA. I write with the hope that people take what I say with a large grain of salt. “Seppos” is an Australian term. Short for “septic” in the rhyming slang sense. Australians are prone to lopping off the better part of a word and adding an “-0”. For example, “I’ll have a pav with my seppo mate Daz this arvo”. It’s not meant in an insulting manner.

    I don’t hate the US. It isn’t my favourite country in the world, but I don’t hate it, either. There are, I will readily admit, things I do like about the US. There are many Americans I do get on well with. I have to. I work with Americans. Would I want to live in the USA? No. I have lived in the US with experiences both good and bad. It isn’t my cup of tea, but I know, understand and appreciate that there are people who enjoy living in the USA. My mother is one of them and I’ve helped several people with their paperwork to move to the USA. My polemics about Germany are just as vitriolic.

    What annoys me is when I’m told to ignore my experiences and brow-beaten. I had — and still have — the choice of living in either Europe or the USA. After careful consideration and much balancing of figures — Anubis-like — I chose to repatriate to Europe. Sometimes I miss California, sometimes I miss Hawai’i and Minnesota. There are people I miss and am always happy to hear from and see. Is it enough to bring me back? No. I have my reasons.

    If I offended you, I am sorry. That wasn’t my intention. I can get carried away with my rhetorical excesses.

    As for the decline in tourism numbers:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/business/travel/tourism-u-s-has-been-decline-trump-took-office-n764206

  7. July 19, 2017 at 6:49 am

    That’s better, boys. It’s ‘be nice’ day today.

  8. christinaosborne
    July 19, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    I have read that article and can only comment that most normal people here would far rather other’s problem LGBT and carpet munchers stayed home!
    Frankly I do not see them as exactly the tourist market anyone would hope to attract!

  9. July 19, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    CO: The “pink pound” is exceedingly desirable. Sweden, Norway and Denmark do exceedingly well on it. California has similarly done well in attracting that relatively affluent group. Business is business. It’s largely a higher quality demographic than the Costa del Sol/Cancun mob. I posted two links. Tourist numbers have fallen by 11pc this year and there’s not much sign that this is going to improve any time soon.

  10. cogitationator
    July 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    For the benefit of any lacking the kind of time I’ve expended researching it, I’ve found that the term “seppo” means about the same in Australia as it does in the UK. The only possible alternative translation I found, cited only once and I can no longer remember where, was that it can refer to someone who is separated from a spouse, life partner or suchlike.

    Granted that the Australians do seem to have the knack of saying things to each other without the implied pejorative weight that would result in grievous bodily harm if uttered, say, in a British pub, it should be borne in mind that some others among us may be offended by the use of such expressions, not to mention spurious attempts to blame it all on our friends Down Under.

    Enough for one day! It’s started raining for the first time in nearly a month and it’s only in deference to the preacher who lives opposite us that I refrain from going out and dancing naked in the blessed wetness. Instead, I’ll confine my celebration to reheating a cup of leftover covfefe.

  11. July 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Cog: One would have hoped that the Antipodean context would have made the intent clear. I am sorry that you were offended despite the context. I am sure, however, you won’t disagree that one reads and sees all sorts of things that could, if desired, be taken as slights when they were not intended as such — especially not to a specific person. I am also sure that you won’t disagree that I am not being unreasonable by refusing to be insulted by far worse things said about Europeans by your esteemed countrymen. I am, on a nearly daily basis, subjected to mind-numbing and execrable examples of what passes as “political discourse” south of Canada these days. Apparently I’m some sort of Sharia-loving dhimmi. My contact with Russia makes me even more contemptible.

  12. July 24, 2017 at 6:45 am

    There is much I like about the US and there is much I dislike. I suppose the same can be said about most countries, places and even people. If one is to criticise a country, I think it is fair that one does so in a balanced manner and that one points out the good as well as the bad.

    The notion of free speech is becoming increasingly relevant in this crazy world. America has prided itself on this freedom, though I have always been mildly sceptical that things are as good as some Americans claim. I think it is clear though, that freedoms are being increasingly eroded and I cite this as an example.
    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/07/richard-dawkins-is-dragged-into-americas-tedious-free-speech-war/

    I am no fan of Dawkins, but they should have let him speak.

  13. July 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Sipu: The point of writing in the polemic style is to raise issues. It should not be taken literally or entirely at face value. Comparisons with other countries, what will inevitably come out of any such discussion, provides useful context. What disturbs me about the US is that it’s becoming increasingly stifled and stifling. Any strong critique of the place is treated as an act of personal aggression when it isn’t. Attempting to put historical events into an historical context is often treated with near violent revulsions. The country, for all its many qualities, has completely lost the plot and its factions are content to destroy each other. Some more intellectually honest Americans have said the same.

  14. July 24, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Christopher, I understand what you are saying. I share some of your negative sentiments but also have some very positive views of America. I simply wished to point out that the First Amendment is looking a bit tatty at the moment. While Congress may not actively legislate against the freedom of speech, there are more ways to kill a cat than choking it with cream.

  15. July 24, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Sipu: My views vis-a-vis the US are not entirely negative, either. The easiest way to control a society is by stirring up mobs. Charlatans can take control of the narrative by whipping up a frenzy. Their enemies,when they see massed, angry masses screaming them down will often back off out of fear. A smooth-talking snake like Obama can secure his hold on power through dog whistle rhetoric and appealing to masses of voters who felt unacknowledged and dis-empowered. This applies to Jeremy Corbyn and Julius Malema as well. A self-serving demagogue like Trump can count on the support of the embittered masses who feel betrayed and marginalised. In truth, most people have legitimate grievances and concerns and if they actually have frank and honest discussions with each other can usually reach an understanding of sorts. If nothing else, they can develop a degree of mutual empathy. This isn’t good for power-made charlatans, however. As a result, people are screaming over each other without hearing a single word. The US has a chance to sort its affairs still, but it’s following the same path that South Africa and India have tread.

  16. July 24, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Sipu: Frightening stuff! This isn’t limited to ZA, however. In the US BLM, etc. are all being created and whipped into a frenzy using social media for many of the same ends. A few people stand to make a lot of money off divisions and exploitation and they’re bloody well going to do their best to pursue it. Wealthy Obama donors and members of political families that supported him were given ambassadorships. The most prominent example of this was Caroline Kennedy being named ambassador to Japan. Her uncle’s support was instrumental to Obama’s success in 2008. It took the wind out of Hillary’s sails and made Obama a respectable alternative.

  17. sheona
    July 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I’ve just read that Trump has deported an Irishman who has been living illegally in the USA for years. I wonder what he would have done to Oscar Wilde. Cancelled his visitor’s visa?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/Oscar-wilde-quotes-about-america/

  18. July 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Sheona: Deportation of illegal Irish have raised some valid questions. When Mexicans, Indians and Chinese are deported there is little fuss. If anything, it’s almost expected. When Irishmen are deported there is widespread outrage in the community.

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